The BFI London Film Festival (also known as just the London Film Festival) is the UK’s largest public film event, screening more than 300 features, documentaries and shorts from almost 50 countries.
The festival (the LFF), currently in its 59th year, is run every year in the second half of October under the umbrella of the British Film Institute. The Festival showcases the best of world cinema to champion creativity, originality, vision and imagination, and presents the finest contemporary international cinema from both established and emerging film-makers.
In 1953 a group of film critics including Dilys Powell of the The Sunday Times, raised the notion of a film festival for London. They reasoned that with Cannes and Venice having their festivals, as did Edinburgh, so surely London should too. However their aim was to pitch the new festival squarely at the public – giving audiences an opportunity to see movies which might not otherwise appear in British cinemas.
The first London Film Festival was conceived by the then BFI British Film Institute Director James Quinn, and took place at the NFT (National Film Theatre, now renamed BFI Southbank) from 16–26 October. It was launched the day after the inauguration of the new NFT on its current site under Waterloo Bridge. It screened only 15-20 films from a renowned selection of directors, including Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Yasujirō Ozu, Luchino Visconti and Andrzej Wajda.